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United E-175 operated by SkyWest (image: SkyWest Airlines)

Aircraft too big to land, forced to turn back

The pilot tells passengers that the destination airport can’t handle the plane they’re in, so they have to fly back.

A United Airlines aircraft has been forced to make an emergency landing in Chicago after the pilot told passengers that the plane was too big to land at their intended destination, USA Today and Travel Pulse are reporting.

United Flight 5277, which was operated by Utah-based SkyWest Airlines, took off from Chicago O’Hare on October 16 at 14:44 local time with Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport in Tennessee as its destination.

But about 30 minutes into the flight, the pilot told the passengers that the plane they were flying in was too large for a landing in Chattanooga and that they were forced to return to O’Hare.

A Bombardier CRJ-200 had been supposed to make the flight, but due to equipment changes with the plane Skywest instead operated the flight with an Embraer E-175.

Chattanooga can support the size of the Embraer, but the problem was that United did not have the equipment at the airport to handle the plane once it landed, the media reports say.

Aircraft hunt
After the SkyWest Embraer landed back in Chicago, the passengers were given food and drinks while United hunted for a suitable replacement plane.

The passengers eventually boarded another aircraft and departed O’Hare at around 18:00 on the same day, with the flight arriving more than three hours after the original arrival time.

United provided each of the passengers with a refund for the Chicago-Chattanooga flight, plus a $300 travel voucher by way of apology.

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